European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU is holding its line on the Golan Heights despite U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that Israeli sovereignty over the territory should be recognized by Washington.
'The EU's position is well-known and has not changed,' Tusk told a news conference on March 22 when asked to comment on Trump's remarks. The European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area, which it captured from Syria in 1967.
Turkey, Iran, and Syria have condemned Trump's statement, while Russia voiced hope Trump's comment will remain 'just a call.'
Trump said it was time that the United States 'fully' recognized Israel's sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967.
The Golan Heights is of 'critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability,' Trump tweeted on March 21.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on March 22 that Trump's move had brought the region to the edge of a new crisis. 'We cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights,' Erdogan told a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Syria's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA that Damascus 'condemns in the strongest terms the irresponsible statements of [Trump] regarding the occupied Syrian Golan.'
Trump's remark 'affirms the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist occupation entity and its unlimited support for aggressive behavior,' SANA added.
Syria and Israel have fought several direct and proxy wars over the past decades and have never made a peace deal.
Iran, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main military backers, condemned Trump's remark as dangerous.
'Trump's personal and ill-considered decision is dangerous and will only lead to further crises in the Middle East,' Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on March 22.
The Kremlin voiced hope that Trump's statement would not be enacted. 'It is just a call for now. Let's hope it will remain a call,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call.
Israel captured the 1,800-square-kilometer Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.
In 1981, Israel extended its laws to the region, effectively annexing it, in a move that has not been recognized by the international community.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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